Second entry in less than 24 hours.

On my way to work today (btw, I got my food into my crockpot with no problem, this morning), I started thinking about how so much of life is about transition.

I donít mean in the sense that transition makes a personís life more meaningful or better, but that transition makes up most of our experience, as human beings.

I read somewhere that when weíre doing something new, our minds go to work, busily recording the experience, making judgments about it, and recording our judgments, too. Because thereís so much new information, our brain stretches out the experience, and it feels longer.

When we become familiar enough with our situations to act habitually, our brain activity slows down. We can function automatically, so thereís less going on, neurologically. The brain doesnít have anything to record, so our memory gets condensed and the days blend together.

You know how, as kids, time seemed to drag? Back then, a summer felt like a year. As adults, an entire decade can pass by, in what feels like a few months.

Thatís because, for kids, almost everything is new. As time goes on, and less and less is new causing our perception of time to speed up.

So, this means, we spend most of our perceived time in the transitions. When weíre old, and looking back at our lives, thatís what weíll remember the most; the times when our brains were the most active and doing the most recording.

For that reason, one could really stretch out the length of her life through constant change, but also, one can really control the perceived quality of her life by controlling the transitions.

Obviously, a person canít control every single transition she has, but she can work to balance the negative transitions with positive ones. Enough positive transitions could actually blot out past negative ones, I think.

Iím someone that naturally changes a lot. I jump between activities and ideas. I love trying new things. This is actually something that is considered to be an aspect of my myers-briggs personality type (again, thank God Iím a type, and not a weirdo).

Because Iím naturally like this, Iím intimately aware of the downsides of constant transition.

First, itís really hard to build something over time. Itís true that Iíve been able to accomplish a few goals in my life, but I donít have anything, and I probably never will have anything that is the result of several decades of dedication. One decade, yes. More than one? Probably not.

I know that in this spazzy, free-for-all kinda life that reigns supreme these days, that is not all that radical. However, when you think about things like 50 year marriages, raising kids, becoming a karate master, rather than a 1st dan, being able to fully cultivate oneself as an artist, or in a spiritual practice, like a monk or a nun, decades long devotion still exists and works well for some people.

Second, I change and other people changeÖ more slowly. I have friends from high school and college that I adored back then, and that I still adore today. Unfortunately, that adoration is constantly hitting road blocks because Iím going off deeper and deeper into no manís land, while theyíre still ankle deep at the town pool. Itís harder and harder to connect when we have less and less in common. And, you know what? Itís really hard to criticize, when Iím the one who is different. Iím the weirdo that is constantly changing, while they are the normal people, doing what normal people do.

Third, change is stressful. Anyone who has been through a radical change knows this is obvious. Itís more stressful to some than others, but I think Iím more acutely aware of the stress of change because Iím just so familiar with change. I think when most people go through transitions, they tend to blame the stress on the specifics of the transition, rather than recognize that change, in itself, is stressful.

Despite all of that, I am forever grateful that I live in a world where so much newness is possible. Like I said, Iím aware of the downsides of change, but I still love it.

Itís interesting, though, that as time has gone on that modernization has encouraged more and more specialization. We have more available to us, but less time to explore it because weíre so busy with our specialized job.

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Thursday, Apr. 05, 2012 at 10:56 AM